Proposals for a £20million computing centre at Inverness, creating up to 400 jobs, have been submitted to Highland Council planners.
Dingwall-based IT services company Alchemy Plus has lodged plans for the environmentally-friendly project on a site at Inverness harbour.
If approved, work on the scheme could start by the summer, with the centre opening next year.
Alchemy Plus chief executive officer Steve Chisholm yesterday predicted the initiative would “open up a whole new industry opportunity in the Highlands”.
The 400 jobs include positions created indirectly due to firms clustering around the Alchemy project to take advantage of its facilities.
The centre will offer data services and “utility computing”, allowing customers to operate on a “pay-as-you-go” basis.
Mr Chisholm said: “With the ability to house powerful new high-density computing applications – up to 10 times the ‘per rack’ capacity of most existing UK data centres – and boasting one of the most energy-efficient designs of its time, the centre will be a best-in-class facility.”
Alchemy Plus chairman Peter Swanson added: “I have long held the belief that access to highly-efficient modern IT systems on a pay-as-used basis will help Highland businesses of all sizes, from one-man start-ups through to established corporates, to be more competitive, and will aid growth.”
The first phase of the centre will initially house 300 racks of computing equipment in a secure 6,000sq ft data hall.
At full capacity, the centre will draw around 4MW of electrical power, but will also have access to emergency power provision to allow it to continue to operate for several days in the event of supply problems.
The submission of detailed plans was welcomed by business leaders last night.
Gareth Williams, Highlands and Islands manager for the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, said: “The creation of this premier facility would be a tremendous boost to innovation and internationalisation by Highland companies and bring inward investment and new jobs to the region.”
Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol said: “High-quality internet connectivity and IT services are absolutely crucial for Highland businesses to be competitive, so we are very pleased to see plans moving forward for this development.
“In addition to the jobs that this development will directly create, many more will be generated by the unique opportunity offered by this exciting facility.”